Wednesday, 12 October 2016


So yesterday I was talking about some of my recent successes, and successes are good. I am very fond of them, but of course, they come with a downside. Every time something I write is accepted somewhere I can't send it anywhere else!

It's not the worst downside ever is it? But I really feel it. I use little post it notes to remind me that I've submitted a poem for possible publication, and while that note is on it it can't go anywhere else... but once that note comes off then the possibilities are endless.

That said, of course I want people to take my work and pay me for it! That's kind of what I'm here for, but I don't get very sad about rejection, because it's a chance to try again, and also, because I kind of love the wording they use for standard rejection letters.

You know how when you're dating there's all that 'it's not you, it's me' stuff, which basically means 'go away.' There's a whole lot of that in rejection letters, and I mostly believe it. I am a good writer who should try elsewhere, I'm just not a good fit for that particularly agency/magazine/whatever. But I also know in my heart of hearts that they're never going to say 'it's shite, fuck off.'

Anyway, I thought I'd share some of my most recent rejections with you, so you too can enjoy the delicious words they use. I shall not be naming names of course, that would be rude. This is the most recent rejection I've had, and one of my favourites:
Thank you for your submission, which we have read with interest. Unfortunately we did not feel enthusiastic enough about it to offer to take it further. We are sorry to give you a disappointing response, but thank you for thinking of us in connection with your work. 
I wish I had dumped a boyfriend with the words "I do not feel enthusiastic enough to take it further." Oomph. Here's another one I quite enjoyed:
Although I quite enjoyed these poems, I'm afraid they're not quite right for [this magazine]. I hope you find good homes for them elsewhere.
I didn't enjoy it much, but it wasn't awful.

More often they're like this:
Unfortunately, this is not right for us. We receive over 300 submissions a week and can only take on a handful of new writers and illustrators every year. The result is that we have to be incredibly selective, so please do not be too disheartened. Another agent may well feel differently. 
That's OK isn't it? Everyone's busy, no-one can do everything.

Sometimes of course, I do get attached to pieces, and long to see them do well. Then any rejection can feel more like a personal insult, which can only be recovered from by a slow dawning realisation that they are idiots. I don't send these precious things out often. But I remember those that reject them. These were idiots:
We have made our selections for the upcoming issue and we're sorry to say that we didn't choose your piece, but we really appreciate you sending it in. We hope you keep in touch and hope to hear from you again. 
They won't be hearing from me for a while. Perhaps eventually I'll decide they were justing having an off day/month/year and try again, maybe. But maybe not, after all, sometimes it's just my style that doesn't fit with theirs and that's fine, no-one likes everything.

Steven King spoke about getting a rejection which had a little note scribbled on it, advising him to try again. That one, he said, gave him hope. Now most rejections are sent by email, but I did get one which had a personal mention, and I would send stuff to them again:
I enjoyed reading your submission, especially [one poem]. I have to make some tough decisions for this issue, and this is one of them. I am declining inclusion of your work in [the magazine]. I do, however, hope that you keep [us] in mind for future reading periods. I would love to read more.
That is an awesome rejection. Of course, I understand that lots of people don't feel they can send out personal rejections, no doubt worried about where things will go if they offer any constructive criticism, or get something wrong, so I don't mind form ones, but personal rejections are nicer.

My favourite kind of rejections are the ones where you get something accepted, and its brethren who accompanied it to that fair shore are simply never spoken of again. Of course, it is understood that those ones have slipped back into my pool to try another day.

The rejections that really bug me are the ones from folk who claim to be so incredibly busy that they don't even have time to send a form email letting you know you should give up hope. If they are so busy they don't have basic manners then it's a gift from the gods that I'm not getting to work with them, but a heads up about it would be nice.

Anyway, today an agent did not feel enthusiastic enough. Hopefully tomorrow another person will (and hopefully on Sunday, everybody will love me and I will win the Ilkley Open Mic competition - get your tickets here). Meanwhile I am going to keep hold of the notion that it's not me...

                                 ...It's them.

No comments:

Post a Comment